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James Gall (1808– 7 February 1895) was a Scottish clergyman who founded the Carrubbers Close Mission. As well as writing on religious matters, often from a rather unorthodox standpoint, he had an interest in astronomy. It was his Easy Guide to the Constellations and his People's Atlas of the Stars that brought him to people's attention.
Most of Gall's work on religion was detailed in a book called The Stars and the Angels in which he not only argues for the existence of other inhabited planets but describes the view that Gabriel would have had on his way from heaven to earth to tell Mary that she would have a baby next Christmas.
A rare, but important, work by Gall is "The Synagogue Not the Temple, the Germ and Model of the Christian Church", published in 1890. It discusses the foundation upon which the Christian Church is modeled.
Gall's main work as an astronomer was with the constellations. As part of this work he developed the Gall orthographic projection, a derivative of the Lambert Cylindrical Equal-Area, to project the celestial sphere onto flat paper in a manner that avoided distorting the shapes of the constellations. He also applied this technique to terrestrial mapmaking as a way to make a flat map of the round Earth. It was re-invented by Arno Peters in 1967 and adopted by organisations such as UNESCO. Gall also developed other projections, such as the Gall stereographic projection.
Work with the blind
Gall's father, James Gall the Elder (1784-1874), designed a "triangular alphabet" used for embossed books for blind people.
Gall himself was an advocate of accessible mapping for blind people. One format he suggested was to combine Braille printing with twine to indicate lines. An 1851 book included such a map by Gall and his partner Inglis. It used raised borders to indicate county boundaries and other features.
He is buried in the north-east section of Grange Cemetery in Edinburgh, nearby his father.
- Astronomical Publishing in Edinburgh in the 19th Century (implies he founded "Carrubbers Close Mission" after 1874)
- Carrubbers Close Mission History at carrubbers.org (does not mention James Gall and states founded in 1858)
- James P. Snyder (1987), Map Projections—A Working Manual: U.S. Geological Survey Professional Paper 1395, Washington: Government Printing Office.
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